In 1813, her thirty-eighth year, Jane Austen published her second novel Pride and Prejudice. She had begun this work in 1796, when she was twenty-one years old, calling it “First Impressions.” It had so delighted her family that her father had tried, without success, to have it published. Eventually, Austen put it aside, probably not to return to it until her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, appeared in 1811. “First Impressions” is no longer extant, but it was presumably radically rewritten, because Pride and Prejudice is in no way an apprenticeship novel but a completely mature work. Pride and Prejudice continues to be the author’s most popular novel, perhaps because readers share Darcy’s admiration for the “liveliness” of Elizabeth Bennet’s mind.
The original title, “First Impressions,” focuses on the initial errors of judgment out of which the story develops, whereas the title Pride and Prejudice, besides suggesting the kind of antithetical topic that delighted rationalistic eighteenth century readers, indicates the central conflicts that characterized the relationships between Elizabeth and Darcy, and between Jane Bennet and Bingley.
As in all of Austen’s novels, individual conflicts are defined and resolved within a rigidly delimited social context, in which relationships are determined by wealth and rank. The oft-quoted opening sentence establishes the...
(The entire section is 1314 words.)
Show us the love and view this for free! Use the facebook like button, or any other share button on this page, and get this content free!free!
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Pride and Prejudice Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!